In London, two Austrians were detained because they were taking digital images of buses.  The police invoked “fighting terrorism” as the reason they required the deletion of the images from the tourists’ camera.

Like most visitors to London, Klaus Matzka and his teenage son Loris took several photographs of some of the city’s sights, including the famous red double-decker buses. More unusually perhaps, they also took pictures of the Vauxhall bus station, which Matzka regards as “modern sculpture”.

But the tourists have said they had to return home to Vienna without their holiday pictures after two policemen forced them to delete the photographs from their cameras in the name of preventing terrorism.

Matzka, a 69-year-old retired television cameraman with a taste for modern architecture, was told that photographing anything to do with transport was “strictly forbidden”. The policemen also recorded the pair’s details, including passport numbers and hotel addresses.

We are reminded of the same sort of police action against innocent imaging in the Amtrak fiasco at Penn Station in December, 2008.

We find it hard to believe that mere photography is enough evidence of a terroristic threat that the police need to invoke their hard authority. 

The real terrorists can get any image they want of any transportation device or hub right on the internet.

To actively seek out the innocent citizen for invoking their own, unblinking, Panopticonic eye on the state, is the height of governmental abuse of the basic freedom to look and remember.


  1. That’s the thrust of it, David. If someone was a serious enough terrorist, they could easily take photographs using high tech cameras that wouldn’t even be noticeable – eyeglass mounted cameras that might be connected to a pocket trigger.

  2. You’re right, Gordon, and that’s why it’s confusing to people when they read reports like this because our common sense tells us this sort of thing is nothing more than a meaningless show of power and authority when, in the real world, this kind of intimidation will save us from nothing.

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